Source: Cri-J vol. 4
Jap-Korean translation: 레니비에
Korean-Chinese translation: 樱之荼蘼
English translation: Aphrael77
Actor Jang Keun Suk is an experienced actor, this year being his 20th debut anniversary. As someone in his mid-20s, he has lived 20 years of his life as an actor. Just this point alone is staggering. During this period, he had gone through gruelling test, met admirable senior actors and had experienced the tumultuous changes of an actor’s life. Even though he is still very young, in his list of works, the most appropriate term of address is “actor Jang Keun Suk”. And he has now transcended to a higher level. With his trademark confidence and thinking philosophy, his never-ending self contradictions, he is progressing towards a new world. Not only in his imagination but having realized his dream in reality, actor Jang Keun Suk is emitting a dazzling aura.
Q. Felt that you were very happy attending the Busan International Film Festival. What’s your feelings since it’s your first time attending?
After participating in it, I’m deeply taken with the city of Busan and the theme of the Film Festival. I even hope that the Festival lasts 6 months in a year! It’s really happiness to spend time with people who love movies. There are many things to see, many respected seniors, actors and directors came, and I also went to unexpected places. In brief, because of Busan International Film Festival, Busan is, to me, a place that can be called the “Heaven for curiosity”.
Q. Heard that you were chatting happily with Rain, Go Soo, Song Hye Kyo and Kim Sun A at a food stall. Just being with these people makes one feel what a film festival is.
Looks like you’re very curious what we talk about at an actors’ gathering. Actually, we’re interested in more or less similar things, of course we also chatted about some movie topics, major world events, places of travel. What we chatted about most is which restaurant is better. Being in the same showbiz circle, we’ve experienced the sense of loneliness at work, so there are many areas that strike the same chords, perhaps it’s due to a sense of being colleagues? … I think this is it.
Q. In this Film Festival, the fact that Keunsuk-san can become the news is probably because you didn’t follow a prepared schedule but appeared at different places and created topics, isn’t it? Think that actors like you in Korea are rare.
I don’t really like to organise my activities according to a fixed schedule, it’s not interesting. It’s best to go play at the beach, join parties held by people who came to the Festival, or play the whole night at clubs! A day seemed to become longer. I really had a very happy time.
Q. You’ve also met quite a few world stars. How do you feel at seeing them?
On the contrary, they think I’m miraculous and look at me in a surprised light. Maybe because I’m very noisy right from my entrance, which may make people think “why is there an actor like this…”? [laughs] My actions and appearance are contradictory, I’m very forthright. Precisely because I’m an actor, I don’t need to abide by prescribed rules in making greetings, so I am willing to extend my hand first, and make the other party feel a sense of closeness.
Q. Year 2012 is your 20th debut anniversary, you’ll have many different feelings?
Although the 20th debut anniversary has significant meaning for me, on the other hand, what kind of meaning does it hold for everyone else? This is what I have been thinking about. Undoubtedly, I will not look at myself and sigh, “Wow~! This is an excellent actor with 20 years of acting life!” It’s just that I feel it is necessary to take 20 years as a turning point, to review myself. Up to now, what kind of acting life have I accomplished? … With this turning point as a springboard, I want to motivate myself to continue to work hard for my next 20 years.
Q. Amongst your choice of works to date, is there any which you regret?
I am working hard not to let myself have any chance for regret. Even for movies I have rejected which won good reviews later on, it’s none of my business, because it’s the actor in that movie who has digested the character successfully. Because I don’t regret, I can then truly go and do what I want to do.
Q. Then let’s take a look at your list of works. First, please share about “Happy Life”.
My life as a movie actor started sometime before or after “Happy Life”. This is a work of great meaning to me. Before this, I was conservative and relaxed, still dreaming about an artiste’s life, and thinking that even if I was not outstanding, but it’s ok if I had a certain popularity and was a generally good actor. But in the process of filming this movie, I had a chance once again to look at other actors’ life, I saw seniors such as Jung Jin Young, Kim Yoon Seok, Kim Sang Ho and director Lee Jun Ik. From them, I did not see my self-perceptions of what actors were like, such as not even going to the baths, eating sausage soup to start a new day, taking photographs uninhibitedly with fans etc. Their behaviour was very fresh to me, and even shocking. They looked so proud and cool… Seniors become actors not because they have to be, but because they like it. It’s really very cool, I learned a lot.
Q. “The Case of the Itaewon Homicide” is contemporarily stunning. Your image on the poster is absolutely different from your image so far. I personally feel that Keunsuk-san became a true actor from that time.
If from “Happy Life” I had understood the happiness of being an actor, then in the process of filming “Itaewon Homicide”, I experienced a sense of extraordinary excitement. I felt that the filming venue was my playground, and did not even have the burdensome thinking that “it wouldn’t be good if this movie did not get a strong response”… because of this, I had made the immediate decision to proceed with filming.
Q. Then, what is the crucial reason for acting in this movie?
After reading the script, I instinctively felt that this is an unforgettable incident. Senior Jung Jin Young had also strongly recommended this. If because of my acting in this movie, this incident can re-surface, then I have achieved my purpose for acting. This is my thinking. And not long ago, this incident has been resolved. To me, this is a very meaningful movie. From the perspective where popular culture can impact society, I feel its meaningfulness once again.
Q. Your new work “You’re my Pet” has been reviewed as a movie for showing the many charms of Keunsuk-san….
Yes. This is hence a character that only I can perform. [laughs] It’s going to be broadcast in Japan very soon. I hope that the response will be good, I’m looking forward to it. Not to say that the response cannot be anything other than good, but there is a burden. Now I still have much room for improvement, I’m only 25 years old. Hope that I can definitely present an outstanding performance in my next work. No matter what, I feel that using the number of audience as a standard for evaluating a movie or an actor is a bit saddening.
Q. Let’s change the topic then. For television dramas, shall we start from “Hwang Jin-I” which made the audience remember the name of “Jang Keun Suk”?
That was a period of loneliness during my romance, so I was 100% engrossed in that character. So I feel if I were to act this now, I probably will show a completely different acting skill. I even felt that the audience could feel the pain in my eyes. From that time onwards, I learnt how to engross myself in acting.
Q. In “Hong Gil Dong”, you played a role very close to a comics (manga) character, it’s that kind as if there’s an aura shining out from your image…
Right! The lighting crew put more effort on me than the female lead. [laughs] Really like a comics character. But also from this drama, I had decided not to act in any more period drama. [laughs] Because it’s too tough, the filming venue was very far away from home, and the winter was very cold. Even now when I hear the word “cold”, I’ll immediately recall the situation then, trembling. But through this drama, I met the Hong sisters (scriptwriters). They tailored “You are Beautiful” for me.
Q. One can see the dramatic change in your acting skill in “Beethoven Virus”. The best actor Kim Myung-min also displayed fantastic acting skill…
To present the changes, I cut my hair short. This drama is like a textbook to me. Especially meeting senior Kim Myung-min and understanding that there really is such a serious actor who puts in so much preparatory effort. Even during breaks, he kept on analysing the script and making serious preparation. Others think that the acting is already perfect, but he will still demand more of himself. I’m opposite of senior Kim. I would chat to relieve nervousness, so we did not become close. But as a junior, I cannot guarantee that I won’t be cajoling, so this point is quite troubling to others.
Q. It’s true to say that “You are Beautiful” is especially tailored for you, which showcased your acting skill. How do you review this drama?
A drama that I was completely satisfied with when I first received the script. And also a drama that is closest to my age thus far. I was the eldest in this drama and as a leader, needed to lead this drama. Fortunately, this drama also achieved success and gained much popularity in Asia. The performers more or less belong to the Hallyu stream. Used to meet often in the past, but now we are all busy and don’t even see one another. [laughs]
Q. You all get along well as you’re peers. Doesn’t the audience know that too?
During the filming process, there practically was no unhappy time. Everything was proceeding happily. We got on well together, and would also do something spontaneously according to our strengths. If I can look back, I want to return to that time.
Q. “Marry me Mary” received favourable reviews but is still a work with some regrets. But Keunsuk-san and Geunyoung-san’s performance is already the best drama.
My collaboration with Moon Geun-young became a topic, but problems would always crop up during filming. The reason why I could persevere on with this drama till the last is, I really like the character Kang Mu-gyul, because he lives the life of an independent band’s lead singer which I yearn for. He lives alone, always together with music, he can sing on the street, he can meet many people without any inhibitions. When acting this character, I had the satisfaction of being this person, he captures my heart.
Q. The drama “Love Rain” that you’re filming now with Yoona of Girls Generation has received much attention locally and overseas. Please introduce this to us.
There are altogether 20 episodes, 5 about a love story in the past and 15 episodes are contemporary. Now we have completed half of the past. Although it’s my first time working with Yoona, we have chatted much and it seems that our relationship can become good. [laughs] She is also looking forward eagerly to this drama. I think I have chosen a good drama. When it airs in Japan, hope that the audience can give it more support.
Q. Heard that you’re preparing a new album recently. Can you reveal more?
Song selection was completed 2 months ago. Received 30 songs and picked 10, all songs that I like. I worked with staff that I have worked with for my previous album. It should be a very satisfactory album? I’m looking forward to it.
Q. Heard that you released a single in China too. What kind of single is it?
It’s a Team H single. I directed the MV myself. The plans were confirmed, what is left is just to proceed with filming.
Q. What are you interested in recently?
Sports car has always been my greatest interest. There is a Ferrari car shop in front of my house, so I always go and browse at the shop. And I keep thinking, should I buy it? I’m seriously hesitating about it and there were several times, I thought carefully about whether this is something I need … This is not something that I can get just because I like it, but even if I just take a look, I’ll be satisfied.
Q. Any movies that you watched recently? And one more thing, as an actor, if you receive a historical script, please let me know.
I’ve been watching Woody Allen’s movies, and for my school’s lessons, I also watched “A City of Sadness”, very impressed by it. This is a movie that describes the 28 February incident in Taiwan, and has gotten an award at Venice Film Festival. It’s a movie stamped with the director’s unique strong style. Seems like in comparison with new movies, recently old movies can touch me even more. I watched Hong Kong movie “Chungking Express” more than 10 times. I like director Wong Kar Wai’s scene editing, and also admire Leung Chiu Wai’s extraordinary performance. Have you seen the expression in his eyes? As a man, as an actor, when I see that expression, I feel that it’s an appropriate tinge of touching gentleness. To me, this movie represents romance.
Q. If you have resting time now, what do you want to do most?
I want to travel. In a warm country… a good friend is in Thailand, I want to go very much. In early 2012, I’ll be going to Hawaii for commercial shooting. After the schedule, I would like to stay there for a while. From now on, I’m looking forward to it excitedly.
Q. For the Twitter that you have just started, why did you suddenly announce its closure?
I had happy interaction with fans, but there are people who keep on picking at this point. Twisting the meaning of my tweets and guessing other meanings. It loses its meaning. It was for a short time but I had fun playing with fans. This alone is satisfying. Now I’m interacting with fans through apps. As only fans can access, it’s very harmonious. [laughs] Tell you something, I’m still using the Weibo account to communicate with Chinese fans.
Q. You look like you’re interested in many areas. What do you want to do most now?
Yes. I want to work. In MacDonald’s or Starbucks etc. It may not feel realistic, but I want to try something that normal young people of my age do. The money earned through sweat and hard work is more valuable. Or I really go to somewhere that no one can guess, to go and try? [laughs]
Q. Looking back at your artiste life, what kind of actor do you think you are?
I feel I’m the kind who treats the world as a “heaven for curiosity”. I’m a person, actor who challenges everything with all my best effort. If my movie or drama does not live up to expectations, I will absolutely not be discouraged or depressed. I’ll take it as motivation for the future. When I fail, I will resolve to work hard for the next work! If a drama achieves success, I think that I will fall behind if I get lazy. Being complacent and not accepting challenges – I feel that I’m not this kind of actor. I always have a dream, and puts in my best efforts in what I choose to do. Even if the result in the end is bad, I will not be hindered by it, but will continue to have a dream for the next time – I am this kind of actor.
Q. Lastly, please convey your New Year greetings to Cri-J readers.
Eels, hope that in Year 2012, everyone gets to fulfil their dreams, be healthy and continue to run with me. Happy New Year to everyone! Please also show me your guidance this year!